Harlow Cricket Club pays tribute to Derrick Hills

Cricket / Mon 6th Jan 2020 pm31 02:32pm

By Alan Howick
Club President

Sadly Derrick Hills passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 28, 2019 at the age of 88 years.

Derrick joined our club, certainly around 1969 and immediately became involved in both in playing and club administration. From the playing side as Derrick would openly admit, it was difficult at times trying to hide him in the outfield but he did create many (unwittingly) moments of amusement for our Sunday XI who at the time were well known for their cruel humour at times!

But it was his skills as an administrator that he best known for. He was Secretary for many years and helped and drafted the constitution for the merger of both the Harlow cricket and hockey clubs to share Marigolds, bringing 12 months of the year use of our facilities and much needed extra revenue. The marriage lasted around ten years or so but with the need for better playing surfaces for competitive hockey the writing was on the wall for the hockey ‘section’ to move on and once more Derrick came to our aid.

Derrick still had more contributions to make for our club two of these were the major projects with the adoption of Spicers field as a second cricket ground and equally as important, the formation of a better organised and run colts cricket in the early 1970’s. More about which, you can read below, in Derricks very own words how this came to the fore.

Today, we must always be grateful of Derrick converting his dream of a second cricket ground on Spicers Field into reality. In the 1950’s ‘Spicers’ was the home of Harlow Old Boys CC (nothing to do with our club) which I understand Derrick had played a part.

His endeavours of negotiation with our landlords The Marigolds Trust, who also owned Spicers to transfer into our lease and also playing major part in the fund raising and personal financing the substantial cost of laying a new square as well as tidying up the whole field to make suitable for competitive cricket and still much enjoyed today, many years later.Derrick’s son Robert has found in Derrick’s computer files the following document.

“When I joined the Club in 1969 the Colts consisted of a small group of Mark Hall and other School sixth formers who were introduced to senior cricket via Sunday fixtures Harlow midweek league and Proudlock Cup evening fixtures.

About ten years later school sport especially cricket fell into decline and Club Cricket was forced to look for alternative ways of recruiting new players. Locally Sawbridgeworth led the way by way inviting us to enter a team in an Under 11’s Sunday morning competition in which Harlow’s squad was formed from sons of existing Members.

Following this game the decision was taken to form a lower Colts age group and the pre-season advertisement of this decision produced an unexpectedly large response. Fortunately, Terry Coxhead and John Mayhew volunteered their assistance on Thursday evenings and a pattern evolved of their supervising batting and bowling respectively of those Boys who already had some knowledge whilst I endeavoured to instill the basics of batting, bowling and fielding and enthusiasm for the game in the raw beginners and managing the Sunday morning Under 13 fixtures.

The early games against Colts of Essex League Premier Division sides were an eyeopener as to how far we had to go before becoming competitive as those Colts had easy access to the County Indoor School coaching and practice facilities. For example Hutton fielded at Under 13 Paul Pritchard whose potential as the future County Opening Batsman had already been noted.

With Harlow Town (then Stort) Tye Green and Roydon forming Colts sections a West District Area including Epping and Epping Foresters came into being which led to less Sunday travel Bob Baulcomb came on board and formed an Under 10’s section the highlight of “Bob’s Bunnies” season was participation in games on the County outfield on a September Sunday morning.

The majority of Under 13’s stayed together and became the Under 15’s which entitled us to participate in a Countywide competition sponsored by the Mobil Oil Company. On the playing side the gulf between ourselves and Colts XI’s of Premier League clubs recurred but a plus side was a gift from the Sponsors fund for the purpose of buying additional equipment and the opportunity for two Colts to spend a winter’s day at the County Indoor School.”

Derrick Hills, one of our unsung hero’s of Harlow Cricket Club, from all of our members both past and present, RIP Derick and thank you.

Alan Howick
Club President

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